The Longest Now

Sunday March 12th 2006, 10:17 am
Filed under: international

I’ve been running into a bumper crop of Marxists recently.  So when I saw an ‘encyclopedia’ page about how society works leading off a section with “It should be clear that the dominant institution of our society is capitalism“, even though the page as a whole is clearly young and hastily written, I felt a familiar rant coming on.

First of all, society doesn’t have “a
dominant institution.  And institutions of family, of civil society and
the existence of government, are vastly more pervasive and dominant
than the various religious, economic, and legal institutions.

Second, I hate to see fundamental innovations get locked into
early implementations. “Capitalism” isn’t a single institution. 
Neither the set of general philosophies that have used that title, nor
the various implementations, are ideal or even consistent over time. 
(That’s true of many high-profile one-word abstractions.)  The writer
above goes on to say ‘capitalism rewards maximizing short-term profit’
— no, it doesn’t.  The pursuit and reward of short-term profits is one
of those other institutions built into the fabric of modern society.

Rant over, man, rant over.  Now
for balance I should indulge a rant about the inadequacy of ‘ideal’
markets, and the complacency of those who feel they are the only
framework needed to scale discussions, comparisons, and decision making
from two neighbors inconversation to a networked billion-person

I’d respond, but there’s not much of an argument to respond to. Umm, no?

Comment by Aaron Swartz 09.03.06 @ 8:00 pm

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